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Don’t Ask Don’t Tell No Longer in Effect – For Now

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Following a California federal court decision on October 12, the Defense Department has announced that openly gay men and women may now apply to join the military. 

In her ruling, California judge, Virginia Phillips ordered the Department of Defense (DOD) to “immediately to suspend and discontinue any investigation, or discharge, separation or other proceeding that may have commenced under the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Act or its implementing regulations,” citing the Act as unconstitutional.

Although the government has asked for a stay against the decision while military officials review how best to address the issue, Judge Phillips has said she is leaning against granting the stay. The working group, set up by Defense Secretary Robert Gates, is examining the “the far-ranging impacts of what changing the law would mean,” according to a DOD spokeswoman. 

Depending on the results of the study, a reversal of the decision is still possible. Defense Department officials reminded recruiters to “set the applicants’ expectations by informing them that a reversal in the court’s decision of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law/policy may occur.” 

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About Barbara Barnett

Barbara Barnett is publisher and executive editor of Blogcritics, as well as a noted entertainment writer. Author of Chasing Zebras: The Unofficial Guide to House, M.D., her primary beat is primetime television. But Barbara writes on an everything from film to politics to technology to all things pop culture and spirituality. She is a contributor to the book called Spiritual Pregnancy (Llewellyn Worldwide, January 2014) and has a story in Riverdale Ave Press' new anthology of zombie romance, Still Hungry for your Love. She is hard at work on what she hopes will be her first published novel.
  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Barbara, please clarify something. “Depending on the results of the study,” you write, “a reversal of the decision is still possible.”

    By decision, do you mean the judge’s decision? That can’t be right, since her ruling has nothing to do with the DoD’s study.

    On the other hand, do you mean the DoD’s own decision to allow “openly gay men and women” to enlist?

    Honestly, Barbara, I don’t think either of these decisions will be affected in any way by the pending DoD study.

    The DoD’s procedural change in enlistment results from Judge Phillips’ ruling. It has nothing to do with the Pentagon’s ongoing review.

  • http://BarbaraBarnett.com barbara barnett

    Well, actually, Alan, if you read the statement from the DOD, it does. This decision is a direct result of the decision, and recruiters are being asked to warn applicants that the new opening for gay and lesbian applicants can be reversed, depending upon the results of the review ordered by Gates. Or am I misunderstanding you?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    “This decision is a direct result of the decision …”

    Oh, right. That’s as clear as mud. I asked you to clarify what decision(s) you’re talking about, and you just made it worse.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    And if in order to understand your NewsFlash, a reader must “read the statement from the DOD,” why not provide a hyperlink? Is that too much to ask?

  • http://kimcrawley.blogspot.com Kim Crawley

    Wow, Barbara, this is great news.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    On my own, I found this: Ruling Allows Openly Gay Men, Women to Sign Up. It reads in part: “Recruiters are reminded to set the applicants’ expectations by informing them that a reversal in the court’s decision of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law/policy may occur,” [DOD spokeswoman] Cynthia Smith said.”

    That is not what you wrote in your NewsFlash, Barbara: “Depending on the results of the study, a reversal of the decision is still possible.”

    Nor is it what you wrote in your comment #2: “Recruiters are being asked to warn applicants that the new opening for gay and lesbian applicants can be reversed, depending upon the results of the review ordered by Gates.”

    (Emphasis added in all quotations.)

  • http://BarbaraBarnett.com barbara barnett

    “Defense Department officials reminded recruiters to “set the applicants’ expectations by informing them that a reversal in the court’s decision of the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ law/policy may occur.”

    This is from my article. I said court. The study still may find DADT the best course for the military (I certainly hope not–and don’t it will). That will at some point potentially cause a reversal of this new direction.

    I realize that this won’t satisfy you either, so let’s just leave it at that.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Well, you can refuse to discuss it with me, but that doesn’t make you right. It reminds me of Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg stalking off the set of The View, so as to not be made fools of by the superior debating skills of Bill O’Reilly.

    From your comment #7: “The study still may find DADT the best course for the military…. That will at some point potentially cause a reversal of this new direction.”

    You have no basis for reporting this, Barbara, particularly since that’s not what the Pentagon said in its official statement today.

    1) The DoD’s study is unrelated to the Pentagon’s decision today to allow gay enlistment.

    2) The Pentagon’s decision today to allow gay enlistment stems entirely from the federal judge’s ruling, which for the moment is the law of the land.

    3) Nothing the DoD’s study recommends can at any point “potentially cause a reversal of this new direction” because the DoD’s study does not have the force of law.

    4) Only an appellate court’s overruling of Judge Phillips would give the DoD leeway to reverse its decision today to allow gay enlistment.

  • http://www.republicofdave.com Dave Nalle

    And just as a reminder since I’ve been too busy to write another article on this, the plaintiffs, their lawyers and the judge in this case were all Republicans.

    Dave

  • Clavos

    …the superior debating skills of Bill O’Reilly.

    BWAHAHAHAHA!!

    O’Reilly’s “superior debating skills” consist of interrupting and shouting down those with whom he’s “debating.”

    An overbearing, pompous loudmouth, he is.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    I meant superior to Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg. Are you familiar with their debating skills?

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    #9 Dave:
    And the loudest voices speaking against the repeal of DADT, in the Senate especially, are and will be Republicans as well.

    Jim DeMint doesn’t even believe gays should be allowed to teach school. And he is becoming one of the most influential people in the Republican party.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    There was very little “debating” going on during The View that morning. Mostly a lot of posturing and hot air. Much like the endless Blogcritics “debate” about it the next day.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    In comment #8, I referred to “Joy Behar and Whoopi Goldberg stalking off the set of The View, so as to not be made fools of by the superior debating skills of Bill O’Reilly.” I never said any debating went on. I said the quitters left to avoid debating, just the way Barbara quit this thread tonight.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Behar and O’Reilly, one on one, would be loud and unenlightening, but not one-sided. She’s easily as smart and quick-witted as he, probably more so. As Clavos pointed out, O’Reilly is mostly about bluster and cutting people off, not scoring debating points.

  • Cannonshop

    does anyone remember WHY DADT was implemented? Review the Manual of Courts Martial or the UCMJ if you do not understand-prior to the policy, being DISCOVERED to be gay/Lesbian was sufficient to get a big-chicken-dinner discharge.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Cannonshop (#16), you correctly cite the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which was passed by Congress in 1950, as the source of the military’s exclusion of homosexuals prior to DADT. I’m curious, though, as to what point you intended by alluding to the more onerous treatment of homosexuals prior to DADT. Are you suggesting that DADT was so much more enlightened than the UCMJ that we ought to retain DADT?

    Between the UCMJ’s enactment and DADT’s implementation, 44 years elapsed. Prior to yesterday’s developments, DADT had remained continuously in effect for 16 years. What is the recommended shelf life of such policies, Cannonshop? Does there come a time, even in the military, when reform is appropriate?

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/jeromewetzeltv/ Jerome Wetzel

    I see all the arguments about semantics, but really, does it matter? The court had tossed out a discriminatory law, and people will finally be allowed to be who they are! Hopefully it will stay. I say, YAY!

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Dave Nalle (#9), your “reminder” that the judge in this case is a Republican insinuates that she may have been politically motivated in reaching her decision. I question that premise. According to Time magazine, President Bill Clinton appointed her to the federal bench in 1999, which suggests that perhaps she is not the partisan right-winger you imply. Moreover, consider this testimonial from her former colleague Stephen Larson, who until his 2009 retirement served alongside her as the only other district judge in Riverside, California, for 10 years. “Judge Phillips is someone who I’ve never known to have any sort of agenda. She’s really dedicated to getting it right and going wherever it leads…. You hate to see so many people judge a jurist by whether or not they agree politically with a decision.”

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    Jerome Wetzel (#18), when the writer of a BC NewsFlash gets something factually wrong, it’s not “semantics” to question her.

    “Depending on the results of the study,” Barbara wrote in her final paragraph, “a reversal of the decision is still possible.”

    That is simply false. The study in question does not involve determining whether or not DADT ought to be repealed. It’s designed solely to review how best to implement that repeal. In no way can the study’s results reverse yesterday’s decision, as Barbara claims.

    I’d stop harping on this point if Barbara would simply concede that she made a mistake, and correct it to avoid confusing BC’s readers. She has refused to do so. That is petty and it’s unprofessional.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    I’m as adamantly opposed to DADT as anyone, but I understand why the DoJ is inclined to repeal this ruling. The precedent of a single federal judge invalidating a law, without further appeal to higher courts, would leave doubts about the validity of both the law and the finality of the decision.

    And if a single judge should, for example, invalidate the health care reform law at some future date under a GOP president, I and other liberals wouldn’t be happy. We wouldn’t be happy if the Supremes upheld the decision either, but at least it would feel final and official.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    handyguy (#21), the ball is now in the court (figuratively and literally) of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, which is widely considered the most liberal appellate body in the federal judiciary. Whether or not they approve the DoJ’s request for a stay of the district court’s injunction, the 9th Circuit will almost certainly review the entire case on appeal. Given their liberal leanings, it’s reasonable to expect that they will, after months of deliberation, affirm the lower court’s injunction.

    That in turn will no doubt result in an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court, which does not exactly share the 9th Circuit’s judicial philosophy. I think it’s highly likely that the Supreme Court will, after months of deliberation, vacate the ruling, bringing us right back where we started with DADT restored. In other words, this entire legal process is a huge waste of time and taxpayer money.

    The matter can only be settled by Congress. And given the outlook for Republican majorities in both chambers come January, the prospects for repeal are nil. Bottom line? People should stop fooling themselves that this means the end of DADT.

  • http://handyfilm.blogspot.com handyguy

    Certainly I hope the Senate ends the policy during the lame duck session.

    My point was that some on the left, even the NY Times editorial page, have urged the Obama administration simply not to appeal, and thus end the policy. And I think that probably is not such a great way to do it.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/alan-kurtz/ Alan Kurtz

    I’m no lawyer, but if Obama were to decline to appeal, I wonder if another group couldn’t step in and petition the court for standing in lieu of the government. For example, Republican senators and congressmen who helped pass the original legislation in 1993 could argue that their interests are not being served by the government’s inaction, and ask for permission to appeal in their own right. It’d be hard for an appellate court to refuse, say, John McCain, who was indeed a senator in 1993 and supported said legislation.

  • http://thingsalongtheway.blogspot.com/ Cindy

    “Gays, Straights and Celibates Out of the U.S. Killitary!”

    No sexual orientation qualifies somebody to be a hired thug for the United Snakes Empire.

    — Aaron Aarons

  • Clavos

    Wars do help to thin the herd…